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This is getting predictable.

I suspect I’m dating myself, but does anyone else remember the Peanuts cartoons? Specifically that endlessly repeated gag (more like heart-wrenching tragedy) of Lucy offering to hold the football for poor, hapless Charlie Brown so he can kick it? Of course, she winds up pulling it away just in time for him to miss the kick and fly through the air screaming, then land in a heap, bruised and miserable, furious at himself for placing his trust once again in a faithless so-called friend. 

Law firms do that. I mean, they do the Lucy bit, with the football. 

“So…when you say he promised you’d be elevated to partner,” I asked one client just the other day, “Do you mean, as in, he actually promise promised to make you partner…or just sort of implied strongly it would happen?” 

My client’s response was unequivocal: “He promised.” 

I fumbled for wiggle room. “But can he do that? How much capital does this guy have at the firm to burn on elevating one of his own?”

My client wasn’t taking wiggle for an answer: “He’s the managing partner of a smallish firm. He can elevate whomever he wants.”

Wait. Hang on…one more question: “Did he specify when he’d make you partner?”

Now I had him.  Because the unfailing law firm answer to any question regarding something good that’s going to happen to you (i.e., not to them) is: Not now…but soon. 

Promising stuff to you (not now, but soon) is actually a key law firm technique for getting what they want from you (immediately.)

The looming temporal gulf between what they offer to you and what they demand from you is acute. It is stark. It is striking. 

Compare and contrast:

The stuff they offer to you will arrive whenever they please, which seldom means anytime remotely contemporaneous with the current era. (And, no, don’t bother them about it, or they might change their minds.)

The stuff they require from you, on the other hand, will happen immediately. This very minute.  As in, I’m aware it’s Saturday night, and no, I don’t care. I’m not asking – that’s me being polite.  I’ll have it Monday morning or you’re fired. 

That kind of right now. Law firm right now. 

Returning for a moment to those lovely, tasty things that they’re promising to you… It’s worth asking just how long a period of time not now, but soon can be drawn out to occupy, at least in the minds of those who run law firms. 

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I had a blast this morning recording a segment on The Lisa Show, on BYU Radio. And no – it had nothing whatsoever to do with law! Isn’t that satisfying?!?

Lisa’s the best!

Instead, we laughed and chortled and giggled and had ourselves a grand old time talking about everyone’s favorite topic – “regression in the service of the ego” – and old tv shows! Cause that’s probably the best response to this pandemic – go watch more old tv shows!

Hey, it might make you feel better. In the meantime, check out the show here. I go on at about 9:00, but the whole thing is a delight and Lisa and her sidekick Richie are a blast and it was worth waking up to share some laughs. Thanks, guys! A great way to start the day.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51awxyv-23l._sl110_.jpg

Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

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And now there’s a Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance

These are some serious dudes.

I’ve been on a lot of podcasts over the years. But there are podcasts, and there are podcasts. Iron Advocate, a new series created by legendary courtroom hard-asses Jeff Riebel and Bob Levant, is…well…a hardcore podcast. Which is to say, these guys don’t mess around.

If there’s a podcast out there where you really do cut the cr*p and say what you mean…it’s Iron Advocate.

We got real. Really real. The starting point was my all-time favorite subject – lawyer misery – but along the way we shared a few lawyers laughs as well.

You can hear the show on Apple Podcasts here, and on Spotify here. Brace yourself for impact, because this series is going to have an impact. Jeff & Bob have argued cases in criminal court where lives literally hung on the outcome. They don’t mess around.

Well, they do mess around. But even when they do mess around…it’s hardcore messing around.

Check out the whole series – I’m already hooked.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51awxyv-23l._sl110_.jpg

Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

This image has an empty alt attribute

And now there’s a Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance

It came as a bit of a relief, in these troubled times, to sit down for an hour with my old friend Sarah Mills, from Lawline, and record a webinar with the somewhat daunting title “How to Stay Sane, Productive, and Healthy in Isolation – Wellness Strategies for Attorneys During the Pandemic” (it’s a mouthful.) You can watch the webinar here.

When Sarah asked me to put this together, my first thought was, well…let’s not just have me lecturing with slides, not at a time like this. So instead I talked her into doing a sort of conversation, along with me. And that was a relief. Because sure, therapists can dispense advice, and occasionally I might even stumble on a good piece of advice. But what therapists mostly do best is give people a chance to talk to someone who really wants to listen and cares about what you’re saying, so you can hear yourself, and we can both heal one another.

These are scary times we’re living through. You can reality-test your fears and you might find this time that no, you’re not just being neurotic, these times really are scary. During days like these, we need one another more than ever, and this webinar was a way of acknowledging that, and bringing a bit of healing to all involved. Hope you like it. And wishing you the very best as we all navigate this pandemic together. It will end.
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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51awxyv-23l._sl110_.jpg

Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance


There’s no getting out of it: This is a column discussing a syndrome in which lawyers (I suspect mostly women lawyers) sometimes cry on the job in what are arguably inappropriate situations, and the often negative (and avoidable) fallout that results. 

Maybe I shouldn’t post this one. It’ll only get me into trouble. But what the heck – I’m here to talk about what I see and hear happening in the world of law, and darn it, this falls under that heading.

So here goes nothing:

My client had done what a lot of lawyers wind up doing at some point in their careers – tried to get herself fired.

That’s a phenomenon I see all the time in biglaw – the unconscious attempt to get yourself fired thing. You can’t rationally convince yourself to quit, but the irrational part of you knows it isn’t about to let you stay, either. So, in therapist speak, you “act out on unexamined feelings.” That manifests itself in stuff like complaining about your job a bit too loudly in places that are a bit too public. Or coming in late. Or not coming in. Or just acting weird at the office without owning the fact that people are going to notice and some of them aren’t going to like it.

I urge lawyers, if they have reached that point of no return (the place where you really cannot come back and work at your firm for one more day without losing your shit) then please, go ahead and own it, and make the decision to leave in a conscious way. It’s best to reframe all aspects of your life as conscious choices, including your career, and put your decision process into words someplace safe (like a psychotherapist’s office) so you can take back your autonomy and be the actor in your own life, instead of acting out on unconscious, unexplored emotions.

You’re allowed to quit. There will be consequences, especially if you don’t have another job lined up, or are saddled with a heap of school debt. But everything in life involves a cost/benefit calculus; this is just another one of those things.

The person who most needs to know what’s going on with you, so she can deal with it, is your boss. That way, instead of wondering what the heck is going on with that associate acting like a lunatic, she can process the news that you want out and, maybe even work together with you to find a solution.

My client freely admitted she’d been broadcasting her discontent to a lot of people – other associates, secretaries, paralegals, word processors, librarians, doc reviewers, you name it. In fact, if you were with her for more than a few moments, you probably heard how miserable she was, along with a stream of complaints and criticism about her firm.

Sure enough, a partner she worked with eventually took her aside and said, “I’ve been hearing you’re unhappy. Why don’t we set up a time to talk?” They agreed my client would come by her office the next morning.

And that’s when my client called me. 

Continue Reading »

TED time

Hi!

I’ve always sort of wanted to do a TED talk. But I’ve also always thought it would be really hard to do a TED talk.

Luckily, I found the perfect compromise: Have someone else do a TED talk about me.

Liz Brown wrote a book in 2013 called “Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the J.D. You Have.” It’s a good book, and one of the really great things about it is that I’m in it, as a case study of one of the lawyers (me!) who left law and went on to find another career.

In 2015, Liz did a TEDx talk about her book – and mentioned me! And I just realized it (sorry, got to keep better track of this stuff.) Here’s the talk, and here’s the bit about me.

Here’s some info about Liz. She’s an interesting lady, and well worth giving a listen (and a read.)

There are a couple teensy errors in her talk. I did Mergers & Acquisitions, not Mergers & Exchange, at S&C. At Barnes & Noble.com I did Marketing and Bus Dev, not sales. And my psychotherapy practice is located in lower Manhattan, not Brooklyn. But hey…she got a whole lot about me right (as in everything else including how much I love the work I do right now. )

So now I can (sort of ) say I did a TED talk (in a manner of speaking) without having to actually, you know, talk at TED. Yay!


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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51awxyv-23l._sl110_.jpg

Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

This image has an empty alt attribute

And now there’s a new Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance

poor dears

Ah, lawyer misery. It is a force of nature. It drives the tides, powers the sun, causes the wind to blow and the trees to grow and the seasons to change. What would we do without miserable lawyers?

Actually, it might be nice. And I suspect the planet could handle happier lawyers, all things equal.

A week or two ago I chatted with the utterly delightful and refreshingly forthright Anjali Patel on her podcast for Sweatours, which she founded, and which is super worth checking out because it’s all about making law students and lawyers generally happier and, well, well-er.

the lovely Anjali Patel

Anjali assigned our podcast episode the adorable title: “Why Some of Us are Miserable.” Who can resist a Victor Hugo tie-in?!

You can listen to the podcast here. I can’t recommend it enough. Anjali is something special – totally committed to telling the truth about lawyers’ lives, which is refreshing, and she’s smart, too, and knows what she’s talking about from experience. And (I love this part) she’s actually read my books, so we could get into the nitty-gritty.

Sweatours

This was a lot of fun, and I hope Anjali will have me back, cause trust me we could keep on going. Thanks to everyone at Sweatours – together, maybe we can turn the tide a bit, and spark a little lawyer joy.


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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51awxyv-23l._sl110_.jpg

Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

This image has an empty alt attribute

And now there’s a new Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance